Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Godtouched Races: Dragons

Individually, a dragon is by far the most powerful of the godtouched races. Put an example of every godtouched race into a room and tell them to fight to the death and the dragon will invariably be the one left standing, picking its teeth with a valdrex's severed claw.

The dragon's weaknesses are largely its sloth, its ego and its complacency. Dragons typically do not socialize well, even with other dragons, and have never truly organized, not even during the godtouched war. Sehkteth, their matriarchal god, designed the dragons to be dreadnoughts. With a fleet of these nigh-invulnerable flying engines of death, she thought she would be unstoppable - and she largely was. However, it was the more organized valdrex that eventually "won" the war.

Dragons vary in shape, size, and power. Dragons hatch from eggs about the size of a beachball, and start growing the day they're born. The smallest dragons are the size of a person, with the largest with wingspans almost half a mile across. Most require a very large amount of food, and so their territories are vast and dragons contact one another seldomly. There are 14 different varieties of dragons, and all dragons can successfully mate with one another, though they usually choose to mate only with dragons of their same type. A cross-bred dragon will be usually be the type of the mother, which insults the ego of the father to no small degree.

Unlike dragons in many other settings, Aarnian dragons cannot naturally shape-shift. However, as dragons age they become more powerful, and more egotistical. Ancient dragons begin to actually worship themselves as gods, and quickly develop divine powers due to this. The ability to transmute oneself into other forms is a common divine spell, and so many dragons do learn it and do interact with other godtouched in limited ways using a disguised form. This is usually to procure more treasure for themselves, or to toy with the other godtouched races and assert their superiority.

Due to their power and solidarity, dragons have never created their own civilization, though they love to wrap themselves in the trappings of it. In this way they could be considered societal parasites - collecting the comforts of civilization and hoarding them away, but never contributing or sharing their own intellectual achievements. Some dragons are naively assured of their own creativity however, and will sometimes subject visitors to it. Dragon poetry, for instance, is so notoriously bad it has been said to literally make the listeners' ears bleed. And of course, insulting a dragon's poetry is instantly fatal.

The fourteen different dragons correspond to the fourteen different elemancy elements, and each one is an accomplished elemancer of their chosen type. Unlike other elemancers, dragons have access to every ability their element is capable of, and this is one of the sources of their great power. Dragons do not in fact have "breath weapons" - any dragon breathing fire, lightning, cold, or other effects are actually using their elemancy in a way they deem suitably dramatic. Dragons will typically toy with those they fight, seeking to gain as much pleasure from the encounter as possible. Dragons are especially thrilled at opponents who actually give them a challenge - though dragons forced to fight at their full potential and intelligence will almost always win such an encounter. Dragons can usually only be felled when they are ambushed, outsmarted or careless.

The fourteen different types of dragons are as follows.

Air Dragons - Also known as mist dragons, air dragons live in the clouds in the sky, using their elemantic powers to make the clouds solid. Unlike other dragons, they do not collect treasure, mostly due to the fact that any that they would hoard would fall through their cloud of residence whenever they leave - their elemantic powers ceasing to function on the cloud. They have a more benevolent attitude towards those in their territory than most other dragons, and will often bring rain clouds to parched fields to help farmers. This is mostly because in the absence of other treasure, a mist dragon will literally consider those in its territory its property, and wishes its property to prosper.

Mist dragons are long and serpentine, with no visible wings. Their rear legs and front claws are quite short and can barely reach the ground when they (rarely) set foot on it. Their heads have an Asian dragon appearance, with very large, luscious lips, a huge misty, flowing beard, long catfish-like whiskers, and iridescent rows of scales and horns covering their brow. They are typically colored sky blue, with a white, cloudy colored underbelly.

Earth: Ornery and wingless as well, earth dragons are notoriously antisocial. They live deep in the earth in caves, and largely spend most of their time sleeping. They usually do not fly, though have been known to levitate themselves on top of huge spires of stone. When collecting treasure for their horde, earth dragons will often simply cause an earthquake and swallow the valuables into the ground, where they're then brought to their cave. They hunt for food in this way as well.

Earth dragons are squat and fat, and look more like toads than dragons. Their heads are almost as large as their bodies and their front claws and rear legs are hidden by rolls and rolls of fat that are as hard as stone. Their heads are covered in horns that resemble stalactites and other rocky formations, spread out in a haphazard manner, and their long tails are often curled around their bodies. Any earth dragon forced to move will deeply resent it and cause untold death and destruction to those responsible.

Water Dragons: One of the few aquatic godtouched races not brought to extinction by merfolk, water dragons resemble mist dragons in appearance, with a very long serpentine body and no wings. Their legs and claws are longer, and they have no beards. They are largely shades of deep blue and purple, but long green fins run from the tip of their tail to the back of their crown. Their toes on all four feet are webbed. Not much is known of the aquatic dragon or its mannerisms, due to the fact that it rarely if ever leaves the seas.

Metal Dragons: Exceedingly fast and dangerous, metal dragons are the fourth most powerful dragon type, and easily the largest. They live in caves like earth dragons, but unlike earth dragons they have a flair for the dramatic, and use their elemantic powers to reshape the interior of their caves to be very ornate and decorated. They have very little interest in hording gold or metal valuables, able to create these at will. Instead, the metal dragon finds gems deeply precious, and will sometimes embed them in its metallic skin as decoration or jewelry.

Metal dragons are long and sleek, and have the traditional European bipedal dragon form. Their rear legs are meant for walking and are large and powerful, with their front legs more meant for grasping, and are thin with long dexterous claws. Their wings sprout from their back behind their shoulders, effectively giving them six limbs. The wings themselves are exceptionally long, and metal dragons in flight often look like a soaring silver boomerang when viewed from the distance. Their tail is long and whip like. The horns on their head blend seamlessly into their skin, and they have no visible scales.

Life: Life dragons typically live in forests, and weave huge impassible thickets as their dens out of the very trees. They are protective of their forests and the life within, but are just as quick to take life as protect it, and often hunt for food in their forests. They see every second of their time as important, and are quite impatient with the concerns of other godtouched creatures.

Their scales are wood colored, with their underbelly a greenish tint. Their physical form is similar to that of the metal dragon, except their body is more bulky and muscular and wings much smaller. Their horns and claws are a deep forest green, and their faces often look like old, gnarled trees covered in thorns. The membranes of their wings are a very bright green, or in the autumn, deep shades of yellow, red and orange.

Death: Death dragons are a rarity these days, because they do not mate, and their numbers have been dwindling slowly, despite their own deathless state. They are the third most powerful dragon type, and they typically live in deserts, swamps, and other wastelands. They are extremely cruel and malicious, yet fond of peace and quiet. They do not need to eat at all, and for most intents and purposes, they might be considered undead, though Nektos has no dominion over them and purification spells have no effect on them. They will go out of their way to maintain the quiet of their lairs, killing all within their territory, usually in the most creative and intimidating ways possible. Just because they're dead, doesn't mean they dislike entertainment.

Death dragons have the body proportions of a bat, but with much longer legs and longer wings compared to their body size. Their tail is also uncharacteristically long for a bat, though not as long as the tails of other dragons. Death dragons have an extremely horrifying face - their head has horns and bony coverings that make it resemble a skull. The rest of their body is pitch black, though the ones that live in deserts are often bleached by the sun and weathered by the sand to be more of a beige color.

Kanna: One of the two most powerful kinds of dragons, kanna dragons are as bizarre as they are powerful. Kanna is an element that can reproduce the powers of all the other physical elements, and kanna dragons themselves are complete masters of the physical form of all they see. This mastery is more of a mechanical one than a magical one - changing a human into a rabbit, for instance, is extremely difficult to do while keeping the human alive. Changing the shape of things for a kanna dragon is more akin to playing with clay than changing something A into something B.

Kanna dragons are quadrupeds with long snakelike bodies, and their heads are also serpentine, and they rarely if ever have horns. Their legs resemble those of a dog or wolf, and they hold their head up high and proudly. Multiple long tendrils extend from their lips, and flow around them in the wind. Their tails are short and thin compared to their body, and the tails typically point straight up. They have no wings, though can levitate and fly easily using their powers.

Light: Light dragons are brilliant to behold, and the rarest of all the dragon types. Their scales are white and they glow brightly, though one that has been killed loses its glow, and its scales appear as perfect mirrors. Their body has the proportions of a ferret, with a very long torso, long thin tail, stubby but powerful and flexible legs, and a long neck. Their arms are the arms of a bat, though extremely long, with edges that expand out. The membranes of their wing-arms only extend slightly down their torso, and get much wider as the wings extend out.

Very little is known about light dragons. Some are said to live in the sun, though this is a scientific impossibility. Others conjecture that a light dragon transforms itself into pure light, and rockets around the planet too fast to be seen, though if they indeed did this it would mean they could fly over the veiled hemisphere of Aarn, which should be impossible. What is most likely, and which actually carries some evidence, is that light dragons make themselves invisible and live on the tallest peaks of the tallest mountains, watching over the planet with a playful curiosity.

Dark: Dark dragons live in the deepest caves and the deepest waters of aarn. Amphibious but primarily aquatic, dark dragons are extremely ugly and have the body proportions of an axolotl, including the whisker-like gills. They grow to be quiet large and are usually covered in warts, barnacles, and other unsightly features. Their head resembles that of a moray eel, and they are vicious and mean creatures. Only slightly more is known about dark dragons than water dragons, and this is only because they also live in deep caves on Aarn, and for some godforsaken reason adventurers tend to go down into these caves to find out what's down there.

Fire: Fire dragons live in volcanically active areas, and often share their territory with salamanders. Some will even use salamanders as their slaves, sending the salamanders on raids for treasures and tribute. Fire dragons appreciate metal treasures more than any other, and keep them in molten pools in their lair. Very, very few creatures have the heat resistance necessary to actually delve into the lair of a fire dragon, so they are rarely encountered. Their personalities are mostly a mystery, but one thing is known; when a group of salamanders is working together, one can be sure they are under the control of a fire dragon.

Fire dragons have the body proportions of an iguana or monitor lizard, with a huge tangle of aerodynamically-shaped horns streaming off their head. They have long thin wings sprouting from behind their shoulders that fold flat against their body. When a fire dragon rises from its volcano lair and flies through the air, its wings actually burst aflame, and are quite intimidating.

Cold: Known usually as frost dragons, they live in the coldest regions of Aarn, and like the water dragons and dark dragons, are semi-aquatic. Their bodies have the proportions of a cat, with a long lizard tail. Their necks are very long compared to their body, and the base of their neck to the base of their skull is usually the same length from the base of their neck to the base of their tail. Their heads are adorned with few horns compared to other dragons, and are streamlined for swimming through the water. Their snouts have axe-like beaks that they use to break through the ice of their homes. For treasure, they value things not normally found in the frozen norths and souths of their homes, and will often preserve treasures such as palm trees in solid blocks of pure transparent ice. They are colored pure white from head to toe, and their simple sleek form is often lost easily in the blinding white snow.

Electricity: Known as spark dragons, they are strictly nomadic and have no home nor horde of treasure. They are the second smallest of the dragons, and are actually somewhat social to an extent. They ignore all other creatures and compete amongst themselves over who is the fastest, and who can find the next thunderstorm before all the others. There are several groups of them, and they usually start traveling to the next thunderstorm so quickly that they are hard to catch and confront. During the spring and winter months, depending on the hemisphere, they can often be found skirting the Jhettan storms, and play chicken with one another to see who can get closest. This game is usually fatal for a handful of dragons. The dead are usually declared the winners and the others all depart, agreeing never to mention their deaths again.

Spark dragons are colored in grays, blues, and bright flashy yellows. Their body proportions are similar to those of an otter, and full grown adults rarely exceed twenty feet in length from head to tail. Their heads have definite beaks on the ends of their snouts, and they have two antellope horns on their head, which often have an arc of electricity sparking between them.

Sound: The most enigmatic and bizarre of the dragons, sound dragons have never been known to communicate with another creature, godtouched or otherwise. They live deep inside caves and often use their powers to confuse those who delve them. They create walls of sound, ghost noises and generate illusory sounds of possible companions or other lost adventurers. They seem to delight in driving other creatures mad and getting them lost in caves.

Their bodies are pale, ghostly and appear anemic. Their skin is rubbery and has no visible scales or horns. They have very short front legs, and large and powerful rear legs. They can normally be seen hovering almost vertical between two stubby wings, without flapping them, and their eyes are small black dots on their otherwise featureless, mouthless round head. They are the smallest of the dragons and full grown adults are rarely larger than a human - this is so they can maneuver through the small twisty passages of the deep caves they call their home. Their body is rubber and stretchy, and can extend like taffy to allow them to squeeze through even the smallest cracks. Some wonder if they even have bones.

Manna: The other of the two most powerful dragons, manna dragons, also known as mind dragons, astral dragons, or even dream dragons, rival fey in power. They can live in any area, and their numbers are mercifully small. Like fey, they are mischievous, and often project their thoughts into the minds of other godtouched they find interesting. They also enjoy projecting themselves into the astral sea and exploring the dreams of other mortals. They are not as physically powerful as the other dragons, and actually have below average strength compared to other dragons. Instead, it is the power of their mind and their elemancy that makes attacking them so foolish.

Mind dragons have steel blue scales with a purple underbelly. Their body proportions are similar to a metal or a life dragon, with the classic bipedal European dragon form, as well as the six-limbed wing configuration. Their heads taper to very long and narrow beak-like snouts, and their horns, their most distinguishing feature, curl around themselves and over the back of their head resembling the two lobes of a creature's brain.

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